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So the Oilers really won their game with the Washington Redskins on Sept. 15. It just won't show in the standings, and there's nothing Houston can do about that 16-13 loss. Art McNally, the supervisor of the NFL's officials, took a look at the game films, and the league then informed the Oilers that cornerback Steve Brown's interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter and receiver Drew Hill's 16-yard TD catch with 4:16 remaining in the game should have counted.

The Redskins ought to do the honorable thing—volunteer to play the game over. Sorry, that's not in the NFL constitution. "The scheduling is so tight, there's just no time in a season to replay games," says Tex Schramm, chairman of the competition committee, which looked into replay procedures in '81. "Besides, you can't say definitively Houston would've won if they'd been given those two touchdowns. The Redskins might've tried harder to score the next time down the field."

New York Giants tight end Don Hasselbeck swallows 55 vitamin pills each day, everything from A to E, as well as 12 protein tablets. He also takes glandular extracts from slaughterhouse animals. The extracts bear the curious names of raw pituitary, raw adrenal and raw male. Each month, he spends about $200 on the stuff.

According to nutritionists, Hasselbeck would get the same results from a well-balanced meal.

The hot question of the week: Are the USFL and the NFL talking merger?

Donald Trump, the New Jersey Generals' owner, says he has talked to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle about a merger as a way to settle the USFL's $1.32 billion antitrust suit against the NFL. Trump says he met with Rozelle on March 12, 1984 at New York's Pierre Hotel at Rozelle's request. At that meeting, Trump claims, Rozelle talked merger.

Rozelle says he met Trump but denies merger talk. Cleveland's Art Modell agrees: "This is totally untrue. There has never been, nor will there ever be, merger talk."

Bill Tatham Jr., president of the USFL's Arizona Outlaws, says of merger talks, "Of course they're going on. Simply because it makes sense." Another USFL owner says, "I've talked to several NFL owners myself about a merger. Most have said, 'Show me how it makes economic sense.' " That exec also says he was told the price tag to get into the NFL: $20 million per team.


•Jim Hart, who was a backup to Joe Theismann last season for the Washington Redskins, said on his radio talk show in St. Louis: "I got a chance to see all I needed to know about Theismann last year. There are a lot of guys in that locker room who put up with him only because they're winning and they have to. But if they start losing, watch out. No one is going to put up with that stuff."

•Tampa running back Ron Springs, cut by Dallas on Sept. 2, said of Cowboy coach Tom Landry: "Players have changed, but this is a guy who didn't want to change. Players are more outspoken today, and they demand more money. In the 1960s, a coach would say to a player, 'Run into that wall,' and he would. But players today would say, I will run over to that wall, but I will run around it.' "

Mike McCaskey, the president of the Bears and a member of the NFL's long-range-planning committee—and the man who pushed hardest for the 45-man roster—says his next penny-pinching move will be to convince his fellow executives to do away with signing bonuses.

McCaskey, a Yale graduate and a former professor at the Harvard Business School, cites these costly gaffes by management:

•Washington traded away second-round pick Tory Nixon, a defensive back, and kicker Tony Zendejas after giving them 1985 signing bonuses of $200,000 and $150,000, respectively.

•Seattle waived 1985 second-round pick Owen Gill, a running back, after giving him a signing bonus of $250,000; Gill now plays for Indianapolis.

•Cincinnati this year waived 1984 first-round pick Pete Koch, a defensive lineman who had collected a signing bonus of $650,000; Koch now plays for Kansas City.



A tip from Tippett: Proceed with care.



When Joe DeLamielleure was with Cleveland last year he got into a fight with Patriots sackman Andre Tippett. Now that isn't the best idea, because Tippett has a black belt in karate. "I was going to write him a letter and apologize," said DeLamielleure, who recently signed with Buffalo. "I wanted to tell him, if he was going to drive up to Cleveland the next time, I'd wash his car."

Tippett teaches karate in North Attleboro, Mass., where seven of his teammates are enrolled in his classes. "Once, in practice, I got into it with [tight end] Lin Dawson," Tippett said. "I had him on the ground, on his back, so fast. He was shook. Now he's one of my students."

Tippett, who took up karate at 13, says, "Karate gives me hand and arm quickness and strength for dealing with tight ends and linemen. It also helps my hand-eye coordination and allows me to better read the different centers of balance in my opponents. Both [sports] take so much self-discipline. A punch in karate hurts more than a hit in football. But you can't let it."


When the Seahawks beat the Chargers 49-35 on Sept. 15, the two teams moved into the NFL's Top 10 for most net yards gained by two teams in one game. Here are the alltime top games:

1,133 Rams (636)-N.Y. Yanks (497) 11/19/50
1,102 Chargers (661)-Bengals (441) 12/20/82
1,087 Cardinals (589)-Eagles (498) 12/16/62
1,064 Falcons (552)-Saints (512) 9/2/79
1,057 Chargers (581)-Broncos (476) 10/20/68
1,053 Rams (574)-N.Y. Yanks (479) 11/18/51
1,046 Chargers (557)-Seahawks (489) 9/15/85
1,044 Rams (529)-N.Y. Yanks (515) 9/22/50
1,025 Redskins (532)-Packers (493) 11/17/83
1,023 Buccaneers (573)-Vikings (450) 11/16/80


OFFENSE: Chicago's Jim McMahon came off the bench in the third quarter and threw for three touchdowns—two on his first two passes—to lead the Bears to a 33-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

DEFENSE: Philadelphia safety Wes Hopkins had eight tackles and returned a fumble recovery 42 yards to set up a touchdown as the Eagles stunned Washington 19-6 for their first win of the season.